When Marie Catrib’s announced changes to its winter hours of operation last fall – closing at 4 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. – the response was mixed, with some patrons disappointed they’d no longer be able to stop in for dinner and others congratulating the restaurant on the decision.
Whichever camp you might have been in, feel free to rejoice, the restaurant has announced it will be open for dinner once more starting Monday, March 19. Marie Catrib’s will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Having served up breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as offerings from its deli counter, Marie Catrib’s has built a strong and loyal community of customers since Marie Catrib opened the restaurant in 2005.
Catrib’s passing in 2013, did leave some people wondering if changes were in store for the neighborhood favorite.
Fouad Catrib, who took over ownership of the restaurant, has always been a strong advocate for the restaurant, working alongside his mother and actually having been the one to convince her to open Marie Catrib’s in Grand Rapids initially.
Catrib said his decision to try out winter hours actually harkens back to his mother’s previous Houghton, Michigan restaurant.
“After her 12th year in business, she decided to close at four in the winter. I said if she can do it I think it might work for us,” Catrib said.
He added, “We also wanted to work on things that we have not been able to do during our spring/summer hours. We said to ourselves if it doesn’t work out we know for next year to do it again or not. At least we tried it out.”
With the limited hours, Catrib wanted to focus on improving restaurant operations and take a look at the menu with hopes of creating new items for customers.
Catrib said some of the goals he set out to achieve have been met, while he’s still working on others. One big change is that the restaurant is moving to a seasonal menu, which will be introduced later this year.
“We have made the decision to make four menus a year instead of one menu every year,” he said. “We have focused quite a bit of time since we have been open on Michigan goods when in season so we thought it would be good to make four seasonal menus.
“Our daily specials, that we make each day, really give us a chance to try out new items that might be put on the menu. For instance, Emma made vegan crab cakes for a daily special this last Monday. They tasted great, it sold out and the employees enjoyed it. This has the strong potential to be a new menu item.”
There will also be some new items in the deli case.
“We have a little bit of renovation that will be happening in the deli to offer more specialty baked goods,” he said. “Our gluten bakers have been making some really amazing things and I want that to flourish for them and for our guests.”
Catrib said the last five years have come with challenges.
“When my mother passed away my brother Moussa and I received the gift and legacy of the business,” he said. “Than two years ago my brother decided to leave and I bought him out of the business. Late last year he passed away and that has personally and professionally been very hard to struggle with.
“I miss both of them very much and they had a large part of the evolution of the business before they left. So once again I am trying to get my footing back on track.”
Catrib said he is “proud and extremely lucky” for the staff at Marie Catrib’s and for the loyal community who patronize the restaurant regularly.
“That is my main focus,” he said. “I will continue with all my heart and strength to make the business better each day for the guests and community. I see the business continuing for many years to come and if I have children I definitely want to get them involved in the family business. And hopefully, I can pass on the legacy to them. But we will be here for many years.”
Catrib said his ultimate goals are for Marie Catrib’s to be a “public house” for people to enjoy all throughout the day and to create a business that “runs as smoothly as possible day-to-day.”